Russia

GOP senators rebuke Trump in vote to maintain sanctions on Russia

Eleven Republicans have gone against the Trump administration and voted to move forward with a resolution that maintains sanctions on businesses linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Democrats didn’t get the votes they needed to pass the resolution, but the strong show of Republican support demonstrates that there are GOP lawmakers willing to go against Trump when it comes to matters of national security.

“I’ll vote to disapprove Treasury’s easing of sanctions on Russian businesses involving oligarch & Putin ally Oleg Deripaska,” Republican Sen. Susan Collins tweeted after the vote. “He still would maintain significant control given his ties to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. Easing the sanctions sends the wrong message to Russia & to Deripaska.”

In December, the Treasury Department announced that it would lift sanctions on three companies: Rusal, EN+ Group, and the Russian power company JSC EuroSibEnergo.

From the Associated Press:

The Treasury Department says the Russian companies have committed to separating from Deripaska, who will remain blacklisted as part of an array of measures announced in early April that targeted tycoons close to the Kremlin. Treasury maintains that the companies have committed to diminish Deripaska’s ownership and sever his control. In a statement last week, [Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin] said Deripaska remains under sanctions, “his property and interests remain blocked, and any companies he controls are also sanctioned.”

Treasury has warned that the sanctions could upset global aluminum markets or even prompt the Russian government to nationalize the company, thus shutting it out from any outside control.

Hours before the resolution moved forward, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin came to Capitol Hill in an effort to get Republicans to vote against the resolution, saying that the sanctions “shouldn’t be a political issue.” Nevertheless, the 11 Republicans voted in favor of the resolution, which was sponsored by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

In a speech on the Senate Floor before the vote, Schumer said that Republicans are taking a soft line on Russia in order to appease Trump.

“For a very long time the Republican Party predicated its foreign policy on taking a tougher line against Russia and Putin,” Schumer said. “In so many campaigns for president, we Democrats were accused of not being tough enough on the Russians. … It seems that acquiescence to the president, a fear of breaking with the president, has held back too many of my Republican colleagues from supporting this resolution.”

The resolution ultimately failed this Wednesday on a 57-42 vote, just shy of the 60 votes needed.

The Republicans who joined Democrats on the resolution were Josh Hawley of Arkansas, Susan Collins of Maine, John Boozman of Arkansas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Steve Daines of Montana, Cory Gardner of Colorado, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Martha McSally of Arizona, Marco Rubio of Florida, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Jerry Moran of Kansas.

Featured image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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